This is a newsletter for patients, family and friends
The Three Most Challenging Places to hear….
Can you guess the places where people often complain about having difficulty hearing and understanding?
- Noisy Restaurants
- All of the above
The answer is (4), all of the above. And these hearing complaints are from people with normal hearing!
Two of the settings have something in common: movie films and television broadcasts use various recording, processing, transmitting and amplifying techniques that can make understanding more difficult for anyone.
Movie theatres use loudness expansion to make loud sounds louder than normal (especially during coming attractions). This is the opposite of what people with hearing loss need. Most people with hearing loss are more sensitive to loud sounds than people with normal hearing.
In addition, film directors often use several microphones to record speech from several people and locations at the same time. They also like to include background noise to make the scene more realistic. Add some background music and you have created a very difficult listening situation.
What about television?
Most television sets have relatively small speakers. The quality and clarity of the recorded, processed, transmitted and amplified speech is usually good enough for people with normal hearing. But it is not the same quality as live, face-to-face speech, and it is often not good enough for people with hearing loss. In addition, speech clarity and loudness will vary from channel to channel, from program to program, and from speaker to speaker.
The clarity of speech that has been recorded, processed, and transmitted through cable or over the air, is simply not as good as when you hear it face-to-face. For people with hearing loss, the difference is enough to make understanding speech in movies or on television more difficult.
And those noisy restaurants? That’s a topic for another newsletter.
Note: Almost all television sets have captioning already built-in. The written text can be turned on using the remote control.
Celebrity Hearing Challenges
Many celebrities have talked about dealing with the challenges of tinnitus or hearing loss, and how tinnitus treatment or hearing aids have helped them. Golfer Arnie Palmer, race car drivers Al and Bobby Unser, Olympic runner Jim Ryun and Miss American 1995 Heather Whitestone, all helped to increase public awareness.
Former American president Ronald Reagan probably brought the greatest attention to the problems of hearing loss. When President Reagan began using hearing aids, the media attention motivated many people to get help.
Another former American President, Bill Clinton, started using hearing aids in 1997 while in office after audiologists at the National Naval Medical Center evaluated his hearing. He attributed some of his hearing loss to playing in rock bands when he was young.
Entertainment figures who have talked about their hearing loss include actors Rob Lowe, Morgan Freeman, and Richard Thomas, and actresses Marlee Matlin and Halle Berry. Other well-known figures include musicians Les Paul, Peter Townsend (The Who), Brian Love (Beach Boys), inventor Thomas Edison and, of course, Beethoven.
Many people in the entertainment world also deal with tinnitus-hearing hissing, ringing or other sounds that are not actually present. Steve Martin, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and both William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, suffer from tinnitus.
Hearing loss and tinnitus are so common in the rock music world that a foundation was created to help. Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers-H.E.A.R.- provides information and suggestions to help minimize ear damage that can be caused by exposure to loud sounds, including music. You can learn more at www.hearnet.com.
Hearing Aid Success in Adults
The results of several studies suggest that the most important factor contributing to successful hearing aid use is the positive support of family and friends. Successful hearing aid users commonly report, “The people around me think it was wise to get hearing aids,” and “The people around me think I hear better with my hearing aids.”
Two other important factors leading to successful hearing aid use are the person’s attitude and ease of handling. Individuals who have a positive attitude about hearing aids and are comfortable handling them tend to be successful users. In other words, a positive attitude both before and after obtaining hearing aids contributes to success.
Not surprisingly, individuals with greater hearing difficulties tend to feel they are more successful with their hearing aids. However, this is only the third most important factor.
The results from several studies suggest that:
Family members should be involved in the hearing rehabilitation process.
- The process should include an exploration of the effects of the hearing loss on the individual and his or her family.
- Instruction and demonstration of the handling of the hearing aids contributes to successful use.